Blues Podcasts

Video: Piedmont Blūz Plays Piedmont Blues

Very early in a conversation with Valerie and Benedict Turner — Piedmont Blūz — I commented that the range of Piedmont style guitarists seemed very wide. A layperson wouldn’t necessarily see a close stylistic link, for instance, between Rev. Gary Davis and Mississippi John Hurt.

Valerie, who herself is a Piedmont style guitarist, explained it pretty simply: Piedmont is a technique. It can be used across genres — from blues to folk  to rock and roll and, presumably, beyond. It is not a genre itself. It’s a tool, not the finished product. An analogy is stream of consciousness writing. The technique can be used in mysteries, romance, historical fiction and other types of written storytelling.

The semantic issue is a bit greater since the Piedmont technique is named after a region, which probably leads many people to assume it is the music of the people who lived there and therefore genre. Thus, trying to reconcile the rural Mississippi John Hurt with Rev. Davis, who is associated with urban settings, was confusing. It makes a lot more sense when the distinction is made.

It seems that it would be a useful though not necessarily easy skillset to master. All About the Blues had a snappy overview of the style:

Piedmont guitar style has folk and ragtime influences, and is played with a light touch and a jaunty swing. Sometimes finger picks are used for volume, and there is often a hint of banjo technique in the typical Piedmont sound.

Piedmont Blūz’s Valerie and Benedict Turner

The list of great guitarists who used the Piedmont style is long and illustrious. Besides Davis and Hurt, it includes Etta Baker, Blind Blake, Elizabeth Cotten, Blind Boy Fuller, Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry (a harmonica player who teamed with McGhee), Blind Willie McTell, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Josh White. Valerie and Benedict mention some contemporary players.

Though it is dominated by guitarists, there are other instruments played in the Piedmont style. Sonny Terry, for instance, was a harmonica player who teamed with Brownie McGhee for years. Many of the people who first produced this music were poor. For that reason, household items were repurposed as musical instruments, Benedict said. He plays washboards, bones and harmonica.

Piedmont Blūz, which is based in Queens, NY, was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame two years ago. The band performs and conduct workshops — in non-pandemic times, of course. Here is more from the duo.

Below the Amazon ad Piedmont Blūz’s renditionof “Last Kind Words,” which was written by Geeshie Wiley.

[box title=”Get Great Music, Support The Daily Music Break” style=”soft” box_color=”#fcfee4″ title_color=”#030728″ radius=”10″]If you shop for music or anything else at Amazon, please consider going their directly from one of the many Amazon links at this site. Doing so supports TDMB because we get a small percentage on anything you buy. The price you pay remains the same. Please consider it. It would be greatly appreciated.

Our New Things: Links to Music Sites and Info on Analog Tech and Vinyl

TDMB has focused on music and musicians. We will continue to do that, of course. We're also expanding our coverage to include vinyl and analog equipment.

More specifically, we'll look at this huge and interesting world from the perspective of music lovers who want a better experience, not committed non-audiophiles.

Check out is some of what we've written so far:

-- Assessing the Value of Vinyl Records: An Overview

-- 7 Quick Tips on Optimizing Your Turntable Cartridge

-- Why Vinyl Records Continue to Thrive

-- Finding the Best Amplifier

-- Finding the Best Phono Preamp

-- What Speakers Do I Need for My Turntable?

Check out more articles on analog equipment and vinyl.

The site also is home to The Internet Music Mapping Project, an effort to list and describe as many music-related sites as possible.

Our Music

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

Full Disclosure

As an Amazon affiliate, this site earns a commission on every purchase made. All prices remain the same to you.